AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Sunday Scribblings and is not part of the novel. It is concurrent with part of the novel but contains no spoilers. I've embedded links to spoiler-free supplemental information, where appropriate. Please to go the Sunday Scribblings for more fun!
"They sent an actual postman?" Mundo accepted the stamped envelope with an attitude of amusement.
The guard shrugged. "The kid was dressed like one. You know how Thespians are."
Mundo motioned for the guard to leave, and then examined the envelope again. Since the pandemic, surviving teens and children had formed tribes for mutual protection. The Thespians lived at the Ariel Theater and were known for their costumes and wild stunts. Sending a make-believe postman to deliver a letter was right up their alley.
With his friends watching closely, Mundo broke the seal and pulled out a card. "Save the date," he read. He opened the card and scanned it, then sighed and handed it to his guard commander.
Alex read the card and frowned. "'A night of entertainment you won't soon forget.' I bet. I ran into some Thespians on a forage mission once. They were dressed like monks and chanting as they took things out of the St Ignatius church school. They weren't our allies yet, and their leader threatened to excommunicate me if I tried to take their stuff."
Mundo laughed. "What would've been the point? We're already in hell."
"That's what I said. We left them alone, though."
Throughout this exchange, Kayleen had been examining the invitation with a thoughtful expression. "I think we should go."
Mundo and Alex stared.
"It's not like we ever get much entertainment around here, other than the occasional kiddie squabbles. It might be fun to watch a play and hear some music."
"Thespians are insane," Alex reminded her.
"They're also our allies, so it's not like they're going to hurt us. Besides," she looked at the invitation again. "I bet they've put a lot of hard work into this."
Mundo leaned over and snatched the card from her hand. "Knowing them, they spent a few drunken hours prancing around in tights and quoting Shakespeare, and they figure that'll do. It'll probably suck."
"So what if it does? At least we'll have gotten out of this place for awhile and done something different for a change." She gave him a pointed look. "It's not like you've ever taken me on a date, you know."
Mundo's face flushed and Alex was suddenly very interested in one of his cuticles. Kayleen had offered herself to Mundo in return for his protection, and before now she had never asked for any of the usual trappings of a teenage relationship.
Mundo set the card aside and offered an embarrassed smile. "Sure, babe. We can go check out this Thespian event." Since she continued to look at him with an attitude of expectation, he added, "You can even get yourself dolled up if you want. I'll dress up, too. It'll be just like a date."
Related Stories: The Beauty Queen, about how Kayleen and Mundo met, and In Dependence Day, about another occasion when the Regents were invited to a Thespian function.